The ProspectiveDoctor Podcast

How to Connect with Patients on the Wards: Tips from a Pediatrician-Chocolatier-Podcaster

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen talks to Dr. Heather Johnston, a pediatrician turned chocolatier turned podcaster. For 10 years, she practiced as a pediatrician and taught as a faculty member at the University of Chicago. Today, Dr. Johnston talks about connecting with ward patients to deliver quality care.

  • [01:00] Why Medicine?
  • [03:03] Pediatrician-Chocolatier-Podcaster
  • [07:20] How to Connect with Patients on the Wards
  • [11:52] Dr. Patient Podcast
  • [15:35] Dr. Johnston’s Advice to Pre-meds and Medical Students

From Pediatrician to Chocolatier to Podcaster

During college, Dr. Johnston was diagnosed with stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and underwent chemotherapy for treatment. Her experiences at the hospital fueled her desire to become a doctor to help other patients like herself. As a physician, her days were often filled to the brim with clinical work, administrative tasks, and class lectures. She decided it was time for a break and rekindled her love for chocolate making. It was a hobby that turned into a very successful business. After surviving heart failure a few years back, Dr. Johnston has since become a full-time mom and podcaster.

How to Connect with Patients on Rotations

To do well in clinical rotations, students should spend most of their time with patients. Get comfortable interviewing and examining them. Rounds can be intimidating for patients so they won’t open up as much. Come back a few hours later by yourself and chances are they’ll feel more comfortable to talk. Really listen to what they have to say so you can be their advocate. The key to quality care is a strong doctor-patient relationship.

Don’t forget to allot time for self-care as well. Cultivate your hobbies and interests outside of medicine. Listen to Dr. Johnston’s podcast: Dr. Patient. The topics range from doctor and patient experiences, role reversals, burnout, medical errors, and a lot more. It’ll help you gain a better understanding of what providers and patients go through so you can decide what kind of doctor you want to be in the future.


Reach out to Dr. Heather Johnston through Instagram or Twitter. For more information about her podcast, please visit Got questions, feedback, or suggestions? Send a message to Dr. Erkeda DeRouen’s Instagram or MedSchoolCoach’s Instagram.


Erkeda DeRouen

Dr. Erkeda DeRouen is a graduate of Hampton University with a B.S. in Biological Sciences, followed by completing medical school at the Boston University School of Medicine. She then completed residency at The University of Maryland Family and Community Medicine Program. After that, she worked at an underserved community health center, and currently is an Associate Medical Director of a telemedicine company. She recently became one of the first 1,000 lifestyle medicine certified physicians in the world! Her areas of interest include: health equity and eliminating health disparities, service of underserved populations, HIV management, transgender care, mentorship, and lifestyle medicine.

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